“Being A Disciple Made Simple”

 

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by Rev. Dr. Otis T. McMillan

Everybody Ought To Grow

You will face many temptations as a Christian, but you can meet them successfully through God’s appointed means “His word.” John 8:31,32 ” Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Successful disciples must continue in His word. The Scriptures also caution us to be alert to Satan’s subtle attacks. Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” In other words, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” God’s word has the power to alert you to Satan’s attacks and to enable you to resist temptation. Scripture also has power to guide you in making decisions. God has given his word to lead you in a daily experience of his will. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

His word also has the power to give you joy. Jeremiah said God’s words were “my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16). And Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may bein you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). As you live more in the light of who God is and what he has said, many tensions and perplexities will start to fade. Although some difficult circumstances will remain, you can trust that God is in control and experience real inner peace and joy. You will recognize more of his purposes in your life.

The importance of God’s word and the power it imparts to each obedient Christian cannot be overemphasized. The scriptures will help the believer experience the guidance, encouragement, and strength that comes through knowing and obeying God’s word.

Believers Are To Put Christ First

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

God has given us many privileges. But we also have certain God-given responsibilities. The Bible tells us what God expects of us and how we are to obey him. Our response should be to obey and thank him for all he has done for us. Some promises in the Bible are unconditional. But most of those which concern our growth as Christians are conditional upon our obedience to His will. This section will highlight several responsibilities which will help the believer build the foundation for a healthy Christian life.

What has first place in your thoughts and plans? What place will you give Christ? Jesus often challenged his followers to consider their commitment to him and his kingdom. He said, in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Following Christ may mean struggles and trials, but it also means the privilege of resting in Christ: “Come to me,” Jesus said, “all who are weary and burdened, and 1 will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” As the believer memorizes and applies the scriptures, Christ becomes first place in their lives. As the believer put Christ, his will, work and word first in their lives, the love and care of God maybe fully experienced. God has promised to provide all of our daily needs and He will. Believers Are To Put Christ First.

Believers Are To Depend On Christ

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

Occasionally every believer will experience failure and discouragement. But the Scriptures remind us of the believer’s true source of strength which is God. God responding to Paul’s weakness said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Just as God encouraged Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, He has a word of encouragement for every struggling believer. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people have found comfort and rest in the ability of God. Through every frighten circumstance, God tells his people, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Although that promise was given to Isaiah years ago, it is just as sure for the believer today.

Believers should hide the word of God in their hearts, and then boldly claim the Lord’s strength for every challenge and opportunity in their daily lives. God’s grace is still sufficient. Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” God is our strength, He is the rock of our salvation. God is our shield and protector who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Believers are to depend on Christ as the source of their Strength.

Believers Are To Walk In Obedience

The Word Psalm 119:9, 11 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

The Psalmist asked, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The response was, “By living according to God’s word. Obeying the word of God gives the believer victory over sin, and pleases God in every area of life. King David was able to testify first hand of the power of living obedient to God’s word. As the apostle Paul said farewell to believers from Ephesus, he committed them to God’s care and reminded them that God’s word “can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” The Scriptures give the believer nourishment for spiritual maturity, and prepare them for our eternity with God. Nothing can build up believers quite like the word of God. On the contrary, not having a regular intake of Scripture will stunt our spiritual growth as surely as improper nourishment harms a child. 1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby:”

Normally, healthy newborn babies hunger after milk. They hunger after milk without understanding all its benefits. Since the believer knows the value of the sincere milk of the Word, they should desire, crave for and completely obey the word that they may grow up in their salvation. Reading, memorizing and meditating on God’s word can build you up, and bring the believer to spiritual maturity. Believers can experience victory through the Power of the Word.

The author Hans-Ruedi Weber relates a story which is often told in East Africa. A simple woman always walked around with her bulky Bible. She never was parted from it. So the villagers began to tease her: “Why always the Bible?” they asked. “There are so many other books you could read.” Yet the woman kept on living with her Bible, neither disturbed nor angered by all the teasing. But finally one day, she knelt down in the midst of those who laughed at her. She held up the Bible, high above her head, and said with a great smile: “Yes, of course there are many books which I could read. Yet there is only one book which reads me.”

Believers Are To Walk in Love

John 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

What is love? John said, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God is the source of love, and also the perfect example of what love is. God is love. His love is sacrificial. Christ’s death is an eternal reminder of this.

God’s love is also unconditional. You never have to worry about it diminishing. It is not dependent on our worthiness to receive it, for no one deserves God’s love-and yet he loves everyone.

“Dear friends,” John wrote, “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). As believers read, memorize and meditate on these verses, they should strive to walk in the same love. Think about how you can live out these verses in your own life. John 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Believers are to demonstrate God’s love to others as they walk in love towards each other.

A friend shared with me a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner. The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor.

The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years.

The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions.

The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: “You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!”

That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to produce great people. There is nothing more powerful or more Christ like than sacrificial love. Believers are to demonstrate God’s love to others as they walk in love towards each other. St. Ignatius of Loyola writes the following prayer, “Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous, teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, except that of knowing that I do your will.” May this be the believer’s constant prayer!

Believers Are To Give Cheerfully

2 Corinthians 9:7-9, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

God has inexhaustible riches available for his children. We are heirs to all he possesses, for “if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Ro-mans 8:17). God is eager to share these riches with us: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

We are stewards of God’s earthly resources. Everything we have is from God. You can show your gratitude to God by generously giving yourself, your time, your possessions, your talents, and your money to assist in His kingdom enterprise. God promises to give blessings that are pressed down, shaken together and running over into the life of cheerful givers.

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

“You can’t beat God giving no matter how you try, the more you give, the more He gives to you. Just keeping giving for His word is really true!” The lyrics of that song are true. Giving allows the believer to participate with God as he meets the needs of His world. Giving is learning how to share what God has given to us. We cannot give more than God will give back to us. We cannot give what we do not have to give. As you read this verse again, meditate on it, memorize it, and then think of specific and practical ways to share with others what God has freely given you.

Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain Jr., “Season of Sacrifice,” relates the following story: A couple, visiting in Korea, saw a father and his son working in a rice paddy. The old man guided the heavy plough as the boy pulled it. “I guess they must be very poor,” the man said to the missionary who was the couple’s guide and interpreter. “Yes,” replied the missionary. “That’s the family of Chi Nevi. When the church was built, they were eager to give something to it, but they had no money. So they sold their ox and gave the money to the church. This spring they are pulling the plough themselves.” After a long silence, the woman said, “That was a real sacrifice.” The missionary responded, “They do not call it a sacrifice. They are just thankful they had an ox to sell.”

2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

The story is told of a monk found a precious stone, a precious jewel. A short time later, the monk met a traveler, who said he was hungry and asked the monk if he would share some of his provisions. When the monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the precious stone and, on an impulse, asked the monk if he could have it. Amazingly, the monk gave the traveler the stone. The traveler departed quickly, overjoyed with his new possession. However, a few days later, he came back, searching for the monk. He returned the stone to the monk and made a request: “Please give me something more valuable, more precious than this stone. Please give me that which enabled you to give me this precious stone!”

Believers Are To Fellowship With Other Believers

Psalm 122:1-3, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:”

Jerusalem in the above text is representative of the Church of God or a place of worship. The Church is made up of all true Christians everywhere. It includes many thousands of local churches. God instituted these local churches to help Christians grow spiritually. As believers fellowship with other believers, they find opportunities to grow, to serve, to encourage and to be encouraged on their Christian journey. They will receive “training in righteousness” as God’s word is preached and taught in the local church.

2 Timothy 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

God’s word teaches us to seek out this kind of fellowship for two main reasons. First, fellowshipping believers provoke one another to love and do good works. We need that kind of encouragement in order to do our best for Christ. Secondly, fellowshipping believers need to support one another and stand together as they face the hardships of living out their faith in a hostile environment.

D. L. Moody once called on a leading citizen in Chicago to persuade him to accept Christ. They were seated in the man’s parlor. It was winter and coals were burning in the fireplace. The man objected that he could be just as good a Christian outside the church as in it. Moody said nothing, but stepped to the fireplace, took the tongs, picked a blazing coal from the fire and set it off by itself. In silence the two watched it smolder and go out. “I see,” said the man.

Heb 10:24, 25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Several centuries ago in a mountain village in Europe, a wealthy nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He made a good decision. He decided to build them a church. No one was permitted to see the plans or the inside of the church until it was finished. At its grand opening, the people gathered and marveled at the beauty of the new church. Everything had been thought of and included. It was a masterpiece. But then someone said, “Wait a minute! Where are the lamps? It is really quite dark in here. How will the church be lighted?” The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls, and then he gave each family a lamp, which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship. “Each time you are here'” the nobleman said, “The place where you are seated will be lighted. Each time you are not here, that place will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark”

When believers have regular fellowship together, they all receive mutual benefit.

Believers Are To Do Good Works

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Your salvation wasn’t earned by your good deeds. We are all saved by faith, and not by good works. Nevertheless, God wants your life now to be filled with good works-doing what is right and helpful to others. In this we are to follow the example of Jesus, who “went around doing good.” Acts 10:38 reads, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” It is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone. The apostle James reminds us that faith without corresponding action is dead. James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” It is faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone. Paul wrote that believers should be “careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone” (Titus 3:8). As you seek to do God’s will through good works, you will profit personally and others you help we profit through you, and God will be glorified. Believers are called out and blessed to be a blessing. God told Abraham, the father of Faith, as recorded in Genesis 12:2, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:” Good works allow believers to be a blessing to the world.

Believers Are To Be Witnesses For Christ

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Mark 5:19 “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”

Believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness to others of what the Lord has done their lives. What could you tell someone about how your life has changed because of Christ? Have you thought about how to give a clear explanation of your faith? Peter wrote, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” As someone who has experienced God’s saving love, you have much to share. Do not be hinder by your lack of knowledge of the Scriptures. Although, we should study the Scriptures regularly, people really want know what difference Christ has made in your life. In Mark 5 we read how Jesus encountered a man who was demon-possessed and living in tombs. With power Jesus healed the man. As Jesus was leaving, the man begged him to let him come along. Jesus’ reply found in Mark 5:19. Jesus told the man to return home and share his newfound life with others. The man did so, and we read in Mark 5:20 that “all the people were amazed.” The man had no theological training, but he knew what his life was like before meeting Jesus. He knew what his life had become, so Jesus said, “tell that story!”

We too were living in the “tombs” of deadly sin before we accepted Christ as our Savior. And so, we also have good news to tell others!

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Read this verse, meditate and memorize it. Learn to apply it in your own life. You will be amazed at the strength and blessing that come from obeying God’s word. There are people waiting to hear your hope story. The journey of becoming a disciple of Christ is a life long journey. There will be missteps, struggles and even setbacks. But there will also be great victories and triumphs through the power of Holy Spirit’s presence in your life. A final word, continue to study the word of God, spend time in daily prayer and fellowship with God and fellowship regularly with other believers. Finally, depend heavily on Christ as you allow Him to live His life through you.

The poet William Blake wrote a poem about the Holy Spirit living in the believers, part of the poem says in essence: “Unless the eyes catch fire, God will not be seen. Unless the ears catch fire, God will not be heard. Unless the tongue catches fire, God will not be named. Unless the Heart catches fire, God will not be loved. Unless the mind catches fire, God will not be known.”